Thursday, February 18, 2016

Scalia's hunting trip to Texas was a "gift" from a businessman who received a favorable ruling from SCOTUS last year, raising questions about criminality

Cibolo Creek Ranch
Antonin Scalia's hunting trip to a remote Texas ranch was a "gift" from a businessman who received a favorable ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) late last year, according to multiple reports yesterday. Scalia visited the ranch with "a friend," but that friend has not been identified.

Scalia died Saturday at Cibolo Creek Ranch, and revelations about ranch owner John B. Poindexter and his apparent favors to a Supreme Court justice should prompt a criminal investigation, not only of Scalia but of other members of the high court and the federal judiciary.

Why? The facts surrounding Scalia's vacation to Texas, as we know them now, strongly suggest bribery or a kickback--and maybe obstruction of justice, or some combination of the three. If Scalia so baldly accepted gifts from a businessman whose company had appeared before the high court, did other justices behave in a similar manner? And if such corruption was common at America's "citadel of justice," was it also present in the 11 judicial circuits around the country?

How ugly could this story get? The original report, from reporters Mark Berman and Jerry Markon at The Washington Post, suggests it could get pretty darned ugly. From the report:

Who pays for a Supreme Court justice to make this kind of trip?

Not Scalia, it turns out. Poindexter told The Washington Post that Scalia was not charged for his stay, something he described as a policy for all guests at the ranch.

“I did not pay for the Justice’s trip to Cibolo Creek Ranch,” Poindexter wrote in a brief email Tuesday. “He was an invited guest, along with a friend, just like 35 others.”

Poindexter added: “The Justice was treated no differently by me, as no one was charged for activities, room and board, beverages, etc. That is a 22-year policy.’’

Poindexter's policy toward guests at his ranch is irrelevant, of course. But any relationship Poindexter and his subordinates might have had with Scalia--and how it might have affected a case before SCOTUS--is extremely relevant. Was an agreement in place that Scalia would treat Poindexter's case favorably in exchange for a "vacation hunting trip" and perhaps a rendezvous with a "friend"? Did Scalia receive other types of favors that perhaps have not reached public attention yet?

These questions require a serious investigation, one that should be wide-ranging, way beyond Scalia. Personal experience tells me that federal courts are a cesspool, especially for plaintiffs and non-corporate parties. Scalia's death could be an occasion to shine a much-needed spotlight on the courts. If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, it raises the specter of federal crimes.

Houston headquarters of
J.P. Poindexter and Co.
The hunting ranch is in the west Texas town of Shafter, which is about 30 miles from the Mexican border and home to John B. Poindexter. Who is Poindexter? He owns the Houston-based manufacturing firm J.B. Poindexter and Co.

Poindexter's firm has several subsidiaries, one of which was involved in an age-discrimination case, and the employee-plaintiff appealed last year to the U.S. Supreme Court. Here is how Gawker explains it:

Justice Antonin Scalia was taking a free vacation at the exclusive Cibolo Creek Ranch in West Texas when he was found dead inside a guest room Saturday. The trip, the Washington Post reports, was a gift from the ranch’s owner, who just last year obtained a favorable result from the Supreme Court.

The 30,000-acre hunting ranch, located around 30 miles from the Mexican border in the West Texas town of Shafter, is also the home of owner John B. Poindexter, who owns the Houston-based manufacturing firm J.B. Poindexter and Co.

The two men already had a tenuous connection outside of the ranch. Last year, an age discrimination suit filed against the Mic Group, a subsidiary of J.B. Poindexter and Co., reached the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.

The high court's refusal to hear the case meant circuit and district court rulings favoring Mic Group would stand--a nice outcome, indeed, for ranch owner J.B. Poindexter.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Poindexter insisted he treated Scalia just like his other guests. But that is beside the point. His other guests likely had not taken oaths to uphold the nation's laws, including the guarantees of due process and equal protection--to which the plaintiff in the Mic Group case was entitled. From the Post report:

Poindexter, who would not identify Scalia’s friend, is a Texas native and decorated Vietnam veteran who owns Houston-based J.B. Poindexter and Co., a manufacturing firm.

The company has seven subsidiaries, with combined annual revenue of nearly $1 billion, according to information on its website. Among the items it manufacturers are delivery vans for UPS and FedEx and machine components for limousines and hearses. The company has 5,000 employees, the site said.

One of Poindexter’s companies was involved in a case that made it to the high court. Last year, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving an age discrimination lawsuit filed against one of these companies, court records show.

Could the age-discrimination case have cost Poindexter and his company a bunch of money? Not much is known about the case at the moment, but the answer possibly is yes. It's also possible that the case would not have hurt the company much, but Poindexter might just like to use his access to Scalia--sort of a way to show off for his corporate friends. The case is styled James Hinga v. Mic Group LLC.

According to The Post, many more unknowns are out there:

The nature of Poindexter’s relationship with Scalia remained unclear Tuesday, one of several lingering questions about his visit. It was not known whether Scalia had paid for his own ticket to fly to the ranch or if someone else picked up the tab, just as it was not immediately clear if Scalia had visited before.

It is also still not known who else was at the Texas ranch for the weekend, and unless that is revealed, there could be concerns about who could have tried to raise an issue around Scalia, said Stephen Gillers, who teaches legal and judicial ethics at the New York University School of Law. He compared it to unease that arises when judges and officials from major companies are invited to seminars or educational events that bring them together for periods of time.

Was there something about the Hinga case that made Poindexter and Co. officials nervous? Did that cause the company owner to make arrangements with Scalia for a favorable verdict? Or did Poindexter seek access to SCOTUS just because he could?

These questions should not be pushed aside. They go to the very heart of our justice system, and they demand a thorough investigation.


Anonymous said...

As that DC homicide guy said, "Fishy."

Anonymous said...

So the justice had a friend with him at the ranch? Isn't that . . . convenient?

Unknown said...

Supreme court justices are nominated, not elected, therefore they carry water for specific groups or individuals; that is, people of power, and do not represent the sovereigns of this country. And the paradox is:their salaries are paid by the people or maybe it's the corporation that pays?

Anonymous said...

The SCOTUS denied cert. (they didn't take the case up). For the SCOTUS to agree to hear a case there must be 4 justices that agree to hear said case. Regardless of this trip he didn't by himself give the final thumbs up or down on this.

Anonymous said...

The Supreme Court'sdecision in Shelby Co v Hoider was based in part on the 14th Admendment.When Congress approves a new formula, its back in effect. Shelby Co spent 2 million dollars for a ruling of no significance.
I agree with you. Poindexter just wanted to show what he could do.Same as Riley.

Anonymous said...

Come on guys the SCOTUS only hears about 1% of appeals and in this case refused to overturn a lower court ruling, where they bribed too.

legalschnauzer said...

Interesting piece from Salon about Justice Scalia and his supposed intellectual prowess:

"George Orwell once noted that when an English politician dies “his worst enemies will stand up on the floor of the House and utter pious lies in his honour.” Antonin Scalia was neither English, nor technically speaking a politician, but a similar tradition can be witnessed in the form of the praise now being heaped on him.

For example prominent liberal legal academic and former Obama administration lawyer Cass Sunstein has just offered the opinion that Scalia “was not only one of the most important justices in the nation’s history, he was also among the greatest.” Scalia’s greatness, Sunstein claims, “lies in his abiding commitment to one ideal above any other: the rule of law.”

Sunstein’s assessment strikes me as not merely wrong, but as the precise opposite of the truth. Scalia was not a great judge: he was a bad one. And his badness consisted precisely in his contempt for the rule of law, if by “the rule of law” one means the consistent application of legal principles, without regard to the political consequences of applying those principles in a consistent way."

Squealer said...

I want to know who Scalia's friend was. Is it safe to assume it was not his wife?

Anonymous said...

FYI: Kagan and Scalia were hunting buddies... I think she went to the Poindexter Ranch with him once.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, @5:20, I think it's safe to assume it was not his wife.

legalschnauzer said...

Interesting, @5:42. Maybe Kagan was there this time, and that's why it's being hushed up.

Anonymous said...

OMG, LS @6:05!!! Even though I'm a card-carrying, knee-jerk conspiracy theorist, that thought never even crossed my mind. (As "Sara" Fallon would say, "Ew-w-w-w-w-w!)

Anonymous said...

The power that the supreme court has to hear a case is open for abuse just like any decision they make. A lot of the public isnt aware of this. I wasnt as a laymen. They choose what they wana hear. If this case has to many red flags like making the system look bad they tend to avoid hearing it.

Anonymous said...

What about the judicial economy? That's always the justification. I wish there could be a more efficient way of hearing cases. Your lucky to even get a memorandum opinion. A lot of times the court will avoid giving an opinion to avoid sounding corrupt like we know they are.

Anonymous said...

My suspicious mind would also wonder if he died during sexual congress with his "friend". This would explain the odd murkiness surrounding his death.

Anonymous said...

Death during sexual congress is normally allowed to be suspected for liberals. Like VP Rockefeller, but it would be good to explore . How about a covered up hunting accident. Where was Cheney?

Anonymous said...

where was Cheney?

Anonymous said...

Digging up dirt on a dead guy *slow clap* There is no low the Legal Schnauzer can't reach in the pursuit of the 'truth'.

legalschnauzer said...

You don't think it's a story if Antonin Scalia had essentially sold his SCOTUS seat? You don't have much of a future in journalism. Hope you can make it in another field.

Anonymous said...

A. Scalia was the go to man if you wanted to buy a ruling.
B.Kagan became a hunter to infiltrate the club.
C.A witty woman can secure more secrets from an old man who likes to hear himself talk, than a beautiful russian spy.
D.Scalia went to the theater.Once seated ,he read the program.Before the Fat Lady could get on stage, he decided this was one performance he rather sleep thru.